Apartments, Conservation Feature Big in Close of California Session
SACRAMENTO – The California Legislature adjourned after a busy session that produced legislation adverse to the apartment housing industry. This session saw a significant focus on environmental and conservation issues, due in large part to the drought in the state and Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) initiatives to conserve resources.
The following is a brief summary of bills that would have an impact on the apartment housing industry:
- SB 7: (Sen. Lois Wolk) This bill would have required submeters for new construction. Mandatory submetering remains problematic for California in part due to the absence of clear or fair regulations; and the existence of rent control which prohibits property owners from recovering costs associated with water use. SB 7 included extensive requirements related to billing, fees, inspections, testing and more. After several rounds of amendments, the sponsor agreed to make SB 7 a two-year bill that will carry over to the 2016 session.
- SB 655: (Sen. Holly Mitchell) This bill would make the presence of mold a misdemeanor. This bill is problematic for the industry as the definitions of mold in the bill are poorly defined, including the “exceptions” for mold that accumulates in minor quantities during the “normal use” of the apartment home. While the bill was approved by both houses of the Legislature, the bill’s opponents say they hope that Gov. Brown will veto the measure. He has until Sept. 22 to act on the bill or it becomes law without his signature.
- AB 802: (Asm. Das Williams) This bill expands California’s statewide benchmarking and disclosure program to include apartment buildings, making it the first statewide multifamily benchmarking intiative. Buildings over 50,000 square feet are covered. The bill also requires utilities to provide aggregated whole building data to building owners who request it. Aggregated utility data is necessary to benchmark with EPA Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager tool. Notably, many of the details of the benchmarking program are left to regulations, and localities are permitted to adopt their own programs that may exceed the requirements of the state.
- AB 551: (Asm. Adrin Nazarian) This bill prescribes duties of property owners and residents with respect to bedbug infestation treatment and control. Many requirements were included for property owners, including disclosure to prospective residents. The bill has been designated a two-year bill, which will carry over to the 2016 session.
For additional information on any of this legislation, please contact NAA Government Affairs.
Sources: San Diego County Apartment Association, California State Legislature, National Apartment Association